A Bit of Color & Pattern – and some wallpaper paste…

This little addition has added some much needed pattern to our lives and is, surprisingly, the glue (or wallpaper paste as the case may be) that has tied all the random color in our little abode together. It also provides, shall we say, a bit of a warning of what is to come (it is located at the front door). Prepare yourself…

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I like quite a bit of color. I am not a “paint the whole place a carefully chosen white” and “layer in the neutrals” or add “pops of color in the accessories only” kind of decorator. I believe that I may be the only person on the planet that doesn’t swoon over a stark white kitchen with wood accents. Though, I do love natural wood, some white bathrooms, and white linens. Anyway. I like an entire room with bold colored walls. I love a colorfully tiled kitchen or bathroom. I love stained glass in bright, beautiful colors. I like certain colors more than others. I love, love green. Little bits of red are a must at our house. It brings in a hit of necessary energy to get me moving. I have a love hate relationship with yellow. I am drawn to the more sunny and vibrant yellows, but the buttery yellows kind of bore me. Blue tends to lull me into non productivity. I could lay daydreaming on the grass all day, staring up at the wide open bright blue sky. I do like blue accents as a break from all the other bright and energetic colors I lean towards. Purple is my favorite color, but is similar to blue for me – a little lazy. So, I can only take it in small doses in the form of an accent. I recently read somewhere that every room needs pink in it. No way. In my opinion, pink is hard to live with. Though as I look at my art piece, I notice the dribble of pink,

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which pulls in a pink flower center in the stained glass window,

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and some pink ants in the anteaters belly,

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and some rusty pink in the vintage car prints I have hanging in the dining room. Hmm…

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The color I think should be in every room is black! I like bits of black here and there. Why? I don’t know. I just think it looks and feels good. And, it is easy to intentionally pull off rather than that pink thing.  I don’t think I can intentionally put pink in every room. I just can’t do it.

I like less pattern. I believe I use pattern more as an accent to add a little bit of visual interest rather than to make a huge statement. I am not a statement maker in any part of my life. I am generally pretty basic, nothing too fancy, but hopefully not too boring either. Thus, my home decor pattern choices are also pretty basic. I tend to lean towards larger, simple, graphic patterns rather than small, pretty, highly detailed patterns. I love sharp, contrasting patterns rather than the soft blend-ey kind of pattern. I like blocks of different colors that create pattern. I also love artwork that creates pattern.

With all that in mind, here is how our bedroom, living room, guest room, and bathroom paint colors came together. Spoiler alert – it was all very non textbook like, very non scientific, very non theoretical…

Me: “I have to get some paint by the end of tomorrow. So, any general recommendations in regards to colors?”

Tad quickly responds: “Platinum Grey for the bedroom. Otherwise, I am good with whatever you pick”. Good thing I had already, secretly, decided to let him chose the bedroom color – as long as it wasn’t blue. Tad had previously tried to talk me into blue. Specifically, some sort of a navy blue. I had shot that blue thing down long before. As previously discussed, I like blue accents not blue rooms.

Me: “Okey dokey.” An hour later, I returned from the paint store with a few samples. I painted paper sized samples for better reference. I chose my favorites. I presented the options to Tad.

Tad – pointing to each option: “Too dark. Too green. Ugly. Not platinum-ey enough.”

Me: “Not Platinum-ey enough? What does that mean?”

Tad: “I don’t know. It just isn’t like Platinum.”

Me: “What are you talking about? Does it need to be more silvery? More grey? Sparkly? Warmer? Cooler?”

Tad: “I don’t know what you mean by those questions. It just isn’t Platinum-ey?”

The next morning I was at the paint store bright and early for new samples.

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Tad’s niece, Makenzi, came over and helped me paint the new samples. We all liked the same one. Yay! The bedroom color was finalized.

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Next was the living/dining room…

Me: “We need something that looks good with new bedroom color, the kitchen (which is green with purple, grey, and acid yellow tile), and the orange sunroom/mudroom. Plus, it needs to look good with the maple floor and cherry trim. I think green.” I love green, and green works with everything, in my opinion.

Tad: “I vote against green.”

Me: “Really? I thought you said I could pick whatever I wanted?”

Tad: “Did I?”

Me: “Yes, I believe you did. Well, if it isn’t green, then I guess we will have to go with a grey of some sort?”

Tad: “Sounds good.”

I gathered up all the grey bottles that had been previously rejected for the bedroom. Again, Tad’s niece, Makenzi, helped me paint the samples. There was one sample we both shunned right away. It had a weird pink/brown undertone (and we already know my feelings about pink).

Makenzi: “All these colors are kind of boring.”

Me: “I know. I kind of feel the same way, but we need something that works with grey, green, purple, acid yellow, orange, maple, and cherry.”

I chose one that felt “warm”.  I mulled over my choice for the rest of the day and into the night. Eventually, I realized that my color choice was the one that Makenzi and I initially thought had pink and brown undertones. I checked every wall, in every possible lighting situation. It felt good in all situations. It felt warm. Probably, because it had some pink undertones in it. I like warm. I had a hard time accepting it was the pink/brown undertone-y one. Eventually, I gave in and went with it. Edgecomb Gray is lovely. You can’t tell it has pink undertones up on the wall. Weird. Plus, that description is so me. I am a total sucker for paint color descriptions…

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The guest room was easy. Makenzi and I quickly chose one of the greens that were rejected from the living room.  As mentioned previously, I like green. I wanted green somewhere. The guest room got green.

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I already talked about the bathroom paint color in a previous story. I was looking for something completely neutral given all the different tile colors and finishes going on in there. It wasn’t what I expected once up on the walls. However, it has actually worked out ok. I don’t completely love the color, but I do like the description below. So, it will stay in the bathroom for now…

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The entry hall was an unexpected diversion.

Tad: “What color is the entryway going to be?”

Me: “The same color as the living room?”

Tad: “That is surprising.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Tad (and Makenzi): “That doesn’t really seem like you?”

Me: ” I agree, but I am all out of color ideas for the moment.”

Tad: “I think we should paint it a welcoming color.”

Me: “Ok then!”

I grabbed my color sample case. We start to review options.

Tad: “I vote for Santa Suit Red.” He had dropped the color swatches all over the floor and Santa Suit Red landed on top. Tad thought that was a sign from above?

I like red as an accent for energy (as already mentioned) rather than an in your face full on red room. And, honestly, I love Christmas, but Santa Suit Red is too much Christmas all day, every day, year round. We did not go with Santa Suit Red in the entry. We all eventually agreed on this yellow…

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Alrighty. The paint is on the wall. It is lovely, in my humble opinion. The living room is a nice, neutral back drop and transition to all the other areas it is open to – yellow entry, gray/multicolored bathroom, green/purple/acid yellow/grey kitchen, orange sunroom/mudroom, platinum bedroom, green guest room.

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Ok. To get this conversation back on track, let’s circle back around to the miracle piece of artwork that has tied all this color together and added that much needed pattern to our space.

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Now. I would have loved, loved, loved to cover our entire living room wall in this paper. It is hand painted, unique, original, and looks amazing en masse. It would have been sooo cool with just the stained glass window and cherry trim on our living room wall. Fun, graphic, simple. However, sadly, I could not afford to do the entire wall. Why-Oh-Why was I not born into wealth, or somehow figured out how to make my own millions so I could have an entire wall of this???

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I have to just be thankful that this artist, Nama Rococo, does sell individual panels for the less financially fortunate, such as myself. I am thankful. Very thankful.

So. I taped the panel to the wall for several weeks while trying to decide how it would be best framed. I actually considered leaving it just taped to the wall in the name of “art”. It looked and felt kind of artsy with just the tape. Something an edgy gallery might do…

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Tape...

Eventually, I decided “edgy” wasn’t my thing :) However, I did opt for something other than traditional framing given it is wallpaper. I liked the idea of it sort of being out there like wallpaper rather than behind glass. So, I ordered a hardwood panel (Claybord) made specifically for art, glued the wallpaper to the panel with wallpaper paste, did a little repair on one corner where I had ripped the paper (this was my first time working with wallpaper), added some hanging hardware, and now I call it art.

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I did move the black and white photos that were previously in that spot to the other side of the window. It feels more balanced that way. I think.

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Though, I am now searching for something sculptural to hang above the colorful panel – to complete the balanced look/feel.

Unbalanced...

It is always something with me.

Anyway.

Tad’s critique/response to the artwork was a slow up and down head nod followed by “Hmm.” Makenzi’s comment was “Did you paint that yourself?”  Her face was wrinkled up when she said that. I told her that she should probably get used to it because it is going to her in my will.

Oh, and you may have noticed those little colorful cubes sitting below. Yep, those cubes came about as a result of that artwork. More in the future on those.

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Water Towers…

I now wake up to a view of water towers.

fullsizeoutput_1237I like it.

I am freakishly fascinated with old fashioned water towers. I don’t know why I like water towers. I just do.

As I roam our lovely city, I have a few favorites around the area…

Olde Town Arvada water tower...

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Anyway, I got in the habit of waking up to a “view” during construction. We slept in the basement, and each morning I would wake up in a forest…

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I loved that. I missed it when we moved back upstairs. I wanted that same daily experience in our new bedroom.

Our bedroom is very quiet, calm, and undecorated. There are some grey painted walls, wood flooring, lovely natural cherry trim, a bed with solid bedding, a bench, two side tables, and two wall mounted bedside reading lights. Ok, so, when I list it all out now, there is more than I thought in there.

Nonetheless, it was feeling a bit sparse and in need of some pattern.

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However, I didn’t want to go crazy with pattern and/or artwork. I wanted to keep the room feeling kind of minimal. In my mind, wallpaper was the best way to accomplish what I was wanting – something mural like that would create a “view”, something very simple with a larger graphic pattern, and minimal color. Hmm. I, then, remembered the water tower wallpaper pattern from way back when we were deciding on the basement stair wallpaper.

I didn’t even shop around. I wanted the water towers! Tad was easily on board given it was the right color (there was a grey and white version) and not flowery.

Ordered (from Cavern Home). Installed (by Corbel Interiors). Now – lulling me to sleep every night (with visions of water towers dancing in my head). And – happily greeting me every morning (as I motivate for the day ahead).

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Next needed is a natural wood beam to add some interest to the bed wall. I love the whole, natural wood, exposed beam thing. Beams are kind of like water towers for me. I notice beams. I stare at beams with wonder and awe. Beams make me happy and calm. I haven’t yet broken the news to Tad that we are going to install a beam in there, but we are.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered – Another Exposed Brick Wall…

It isn’t really another brick wall…

It is the original exposed brick wall in our old house. After 21.5 years, our dining room exposed brick wall is finally finished!

Yes, you read that correctly – 21.5 years! It should not have taken that long. Why did it take so long? I don’t know. I don’t have a simple answer. I don’t have a complicated answer. I don’t even have a story. It just never got done…

The point today is that it is now done! We can all move on with our lives. Our exposed brick dining room wall has been cleaned up, repaired, tuck pointed, sealed, trimmed out, and finished.

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This exposed brick wall is a focal point in our house. I love exposed brick walls. Tad not so much. People tend to have a lot of questions about exposed brick walls. I have discussed our exposed brick walls in the past. Click here to review the detailed story of our exposed brick walls.  Yes, we have more than one exposed brick wall :0 !

Here is the abbreviated version of the exposed brick wall story in our dining room. This brick wall had been exposed before we moved in 21 years ago. It was never finished properly. There were missing bricks. There was missing mortar. The bricks and mortar were a bit fragile and sandy so it was constantly dropping debris onto the floor. There was a sizable gap between the wall and flooring. There was also a big gap along the ceiling where the plaster had been removed. At some point over the last 2 decades, we did a temporary fix for the gaps in the floor and ceiling. I also added some plaster back around the windows so we could trim out the windows.

Dining room floor

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Weirdly, I had not planned to finish the dining room wall during our recent renovation. Though, at some point, I realized I needed to at least clean up the brick wall a bit in preparation for future completion. I sanded off a bunch of insulation overspray and chipped the plaster off the brick at the ceiling (so the drywall guys could get the drywall as close as possible to the brick wall). I ended up with a few more holes in the wall and a lot of really loose bricks.

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Still, I thought I might do the brick wall repair myself – eventually, but it wasn’t really on my radar with everything else going on. Then, Tad mentioned that we should probably just get this done before the new flooring was installed. I think he was nervous seeing a bunch of brick pieces sitting there…

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Getting the exposed brick wall tuck pointed seemed like a decent idea. However, there was a definite flaw in that suggestion. I had less than a week to get it done. That seemed impossible given the fact that I had to work most of those days, and I had no prearranged resources to get this done.

I decided to give it the old college try. I left messages with a bunch of masons. Most never returned my calls. Others declined the job immediately (too small of a job, too old of a house, too detailed, etc).  I had started to research how I was going to DIY this thing between my 12 hour work days. Then, I got a referral from one of the masons I contacted – about a guy who works just on historic houses.

Long story short – the guy ended up being the same guy who did our outside tuck pointing 20 years ago, the price was reasonable, the missing bricks were replaced, the loose bricks were reset, tuck pointing was done, and he was able to complete the job in 2 days – before the new flooring went in!

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Next up was sealing the wall. If you reviewed my previous post about our exposed brick walls, you know that I debated whether or not to seal the walls and, if so, with what. You also know that the debate ended with me sealing our other wall with some stone and grout sealer that I had also used in our shower. It worked great, but was very time consuming and a bit messy to apply (I had to spray on 6 or 7 thin coats with a spray bottle.)

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So, back to the dining room wall – At this point, the new flooring had already gone in, so using a spray bottle to seal the wall didn’t seem like a good idea (with the possibility of drips and overspray onto the floor even if I tried to protect it). I discussed the situation with the guy who repaired the brick wall. He suggested a product that could be neatly brushed or rolled on and would yield the results I was looking for (no sheen, no darkening of the bricks, and would keep the sandy stuff on the wall behind the sealer). It worked pretty well. I was able to neatly brush the sealer onto the bricks without a huge mess. The sheen is matte/low shine. It has done a great job at keeping the sandy debris up on the wall. Not one piece  of rogue debris has been spotted on the new flooring. The one thing that wasn’t completely optimal about this different product was that I think it did darken the bricks slightly. Though, it is difficult to be certain.

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The bathroom/bedroom exposed brick wall seems to be a bit less vibrant. It seems to be a bit more subtle and subdued…

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Though, now that I am studying the photos, I think it is because there is some residual plaster left on the bathroom/bedroom wall. The dining room wall is clear of any residual plaster…

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Hmm. Had I noticed that prior to sealing, I may have tried to do some sort of white or gray dry brush technique on the bricks to tone down the red. Heck, I still might actually try that in the future – when I’ve got nothing better to do!

Anyway. With that mystery solved, I am going to say that I would definitely recommend the later “hydrasheen” product for sealing exposed brick walls due to the ease of application and the stellar performance of keeping the debris off the floor and behind the sealer.

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Next up on the road to a finished dining room wall was caulking. The flooring guys had done a nice job of scribing the flooring to the brick wall. However, being that the wall is an even brick surface there was still a small gap – and Tad suggested that caulking would provide a more finished look.

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I used backer rod behind some of the bigger gaps and taped off the the edge of the flooring.

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I caulked the joint with some gray caulking that closely matched the mortar (or so I thought).

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Once the tape was removed, I realized that the caulking was most definitely not a good match to the mortar…

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Tad thought it looked ok as it was. I didn’t like it. I tried to live with it for a while. It was distracting. It was totally the wrong color. It wasn’t even close. Finally, I did a faux painting experiment with wood stain, acrylic craft paint, and latex wall paint – to get a closer match. I am a freak (we already know that). It isn’t perfect, but I think it looks pretty good now – a little less dark industrial gray – a bit more soft antiqued gray/brown…

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The next step was to paint the plaster around the windows. I was dreading this. I knew it would be a total time suck with all the taping required. Last time I painted this plaster it took a good eight hours to tape off around the three windows. I considered procrastinating this part of the project. Tad kept bugging me to get it done. His persistence paid off. I sucked it up and just got it done.

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Again, it took about 8 hours of my life to tape off these windows. I did space out the taping task to 2 or 3 evenings – while listening to some podcasts. So, the task seemed almost bearable this time around. Painting was quick in comparison to taping off – it took about an hour. I am happy it is done. I am happy I was pressured to just get it done. I vow to never do that again!

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The final finishing detail was wood trim along the top.

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I like it.

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Here are the before and afters.

Back in the day…

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A work in progress – before repair…

Dining wall pre-tuckpointing...

Still a work in progress – after repair and sealed, but before paint and wood trim…

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Finished (except, maybe some future white wash to tone down the vibrant red of the bricks)…

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Why can’t I just leave well enough alone???